December 17, 2007

It’s Not Even Good Stenography

Ya gotta love it!

Howard Kurtz gets his shorts properly in a bunch over quoting anonymous political operatives, thus proving that it’s possible to practice journalistic stenography badly. He writes:

Is it really necessary to allow operatives from one campaign to attack another candidate without their names attached? These strategists are paid to slam the other contenders. Why should they be able to hide behind a curtain of anonymity? Do you really want to be aiding and abetting that sort of cheap-shot politics?

Later in the column he mentions something that I think leads directly to stenography:

Political reporters, as a rule, are an industrious band of road warriors who work hard to get people to speak on the record.

It is hard work of a sort to follow a campaign. Eating in greasy spoons, sleeping in strange motels, running here and there on someone else’s schedule. And, yes, trying to get people to talk to you in meaningful ways is very hard work.

My questions: Why are so many of you participating in this zoo in the first place? How many does it take to cover the same old thing day after day? Perhaps all that hard work is misplaced. 

There’s a better story to tell. And it fulfills the primary purpose of journalism.

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